NPR Next Building The Future Of Public Radio
Technology is evolving faster than any time in history, forever changing the way we communicate, receive our news and engage with the world. Today, roughly nine-in-ten U.S. adults receive at least some news online,1 and more Americans receive their news through social media than print newspapers.2 With more choices for information and entertainment than ever before, audiences now decide when, on what platform and from whom they’ll get their news. In recent years, NPR has added journalists, launched a portfolio of podcasts and created apps, websites and video that make it easy for people to access trusted news and thoughtful storytelling wherever they prefer to seek it. As technology continues to evolve, the needs and expectations of audiences will continue to change, requiring us to provide our reporting in new ways and in more places. In order to remain a vital public service, NPR must be ready to not only adapt, but to stay ahead of the curve. To this end, we’ve created NPR Next, a dedicated fund to support NPR’s innovation and growth. NPR Next will provide critical resources that will enable us to uphold our mission and serve the next generation.
More people are turning to NPR’s digital platforms to stay informed. This month:
people will visit npr.org– more than the websites of commercial outlets, including the Los Angeles Times and The Guardian.
people will listen to an NPR podcast, making us the #1 podcast publisher in the nation.
will download NPR content on-demand via smart speakers.
Digital platforms are drawing new audiences to public radio.
NPR Next is designed to help NPR reach the next generation of audiences. It ensures that we are creating inspiring content and making it available wherever people are consuming news and information, and trying to be better citizens.” Anya Grundmann NPR Senior Vice President for Programming
The median age of NPR podcast listeners is nearly two decades younger than the median age of our broadcast audience.
of viewers to NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts are aged 18-24. These performances also draw NPR’s most diverse audience.
Through NPR Next, we will continue meeting audiences where they are today— and be ready to meet them where they will be tomorrow.
A listener experiences NPR on an Amazon Echo Show. Photo credit: Eric Lee/NPR
NPR NEXT WILL ENABLE NPR TO Create programs and podcasts that spark curiosity, foster empathy and deepen understanding of events, ideas and cultures.
Be agile and adaptable to new technology so that we’re able to keep
Develop rising talent and highlight an array of voices, identifying new
Build a unified digital public radio experience, working with Member stations to make it easier for people to access all of public radio’s local, national and international reporting in one place.
hosts and journalists and sharing a wide range of perspectives.
the public informed no matter where they seek news and entertainment.
Reach new audiences on emerging and existing platforms.
WHAT IT WILL TAKE Expertise
Dedicated staff to build and design tomorrow’s public radio experiences, and make strategic recommendations about emerging technologies.
To create increasingly personalized experiences on NPR’s apps and website, and support our work to help stations keep pace with rapid changes in technology and audience behavior.
NPR Next provides resources that ensure NPR is able to act quickly when new opportunities arise to further our mission and keep Americans everywhere informed.
To support the development of programs, podcasts and talent, from training new hosts, to equipment and production expenses, to research and audience analysis.
Creating Tomorrow’s Public Radio Experiences
Making Quality Journalism Accessible to All
In November 2018, NPR launched the Visual Newscast, a version of our hourly newscast featuring photos and video for smart speakers. While we are excited to offer this new experience, its development was delayed due to resources. As a result, NPR missed a major opportunity.
To fulfill our mission to inform the public, NPR has never restricted access to our journalism. We have never used a paywall on npr.org or charged for access to our apps, podcasts or other digital content–and we never will.
In fall 2017, when Amazon released the Echo Show (the first smart speaker with a screen), the company dropped NPR as its default smart speaker news provider as we were unable to create a visual version of our newscast in time. Our default status had enabled NPR to reach a vast audience who may not have experienced public radio before–our newscast peaked at 12 million downloads per month before we lost our default status.
Through NPR Next, we will continue developing new ways to reach people with the information they need to make informed decisions and understand the events shaping our world. As always, we’ll make this critical information available free of charge to all who seek it.
Today, resources permit us to offer the Visual Newscast three hours per day, 7-10am EST (the time of day when the devices are most used). As other smart speaker systems prepare to launch devices with screens, our Visual Newscast will become increasingly important in the years to come. NPR Next is designed to support projects like the Visual Newscast, enabling us to further refine and develop the experience, and move more quickly when future opportunities arise.
Pew Research Center, “Digital News Fact Sheet,”
June 2018. 2
Pew Research Center, December 10, 2018.
NPR Audience Insights Competitive Media
Report, November 2018. 4
Podtrac, February 2019.
Splunk NPR podcast logs, October-December
NPR Podcast User Profile, Spring 2018.
NPR YouTube Analytics Report, December 2018.
P H OTOS (C LOC KWIS E ON COV E R )
Allison Shelley/NPR, Allison Shelley/NPR, Allison Shelley/NPR, Stephen Voss/NPR, Ian Baldessari/ NPR
Korva Coleman on NPR’s visual newscast on an Amazon Echo Show.